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International Builders’ Show Features Smart Products, Interactivity

Building materials and luxury design items were just some of the products on display Jan. 8-11 when the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) welcomed thousands to Orlando, Florida, for Design & Construction Week. The week featured the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS).

Held at the sprawling Orange County Convention Center, the combined shows allowed industry professionals and vendors to see the growing trends in design and homebuilding for 2018. Attendees had nearly unlimited opportunities to see, hear and touch the newest products and ideas to hit the market.

Trends and Technology

Show guests were greeted with a wide assortment of products and services on display, from fully assembled bomb shelters to the latest in bathroom and kitchen appliances. For the industry professionals present, it was a chance to learn from experts in an assortment of fields, while also getting ahead of the next trends customers will ask for in their builds.

One consistent trend was increasing integration of technology with common home assistant products. Services like Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod are linking up with more products, allowing a multitude of home items to be integrated into voice-activated and internet-connected services.

One example is U by Moen, a digital shower product that can be set to a specific water temperature through voice activation. Another is Onelink Safe and Sound, which won the best home technology product at the show’s awards. The Safe and Sound has smoke and carbon monoxide detection capabilities and also integrates a speaker into an Alexa network to play music and audiobooks.

For Jeff Glazier, president of operations for Keystone Construction in Lehi, Utah, Onelink was just one of the products he was hoping to find at IBS. Staying ahead of the curve on trends, offering higher quality products and educating himself and his co-workers were his priorities for coming to the show.

“Education is a big thing for us. We’re doing a lot of townhomes right now, so we’re focusing on how to shrink items and design ideas to still deliver the quality we want for our customers,” Glazier says. “Innovative ideas, like the connected smoke detector, are ways to make sure we can deliver on the design options our customers will be looking for.”

Interactive Innovation

Given its focus on designers and builders, Design & Construction Week was heavy on interactive booths and activities for attendees. Whether it was an innovative way to showcase a product or just a way to put attendees in a lively and competitive mood, the show had plenty to offer.

Wells Fargo brought in a full-size stage coach to bring its iconic brand to life for guests, but the real action was in the carnival-themed horse racing game. Other activities included cornhole games at the Trex booth, showcasing a new rollout of Trex Cornhole™ sets, as well as open kitchen demonstrations at multiple booths within the luxury design areas.

For Joe Mahoney, assistant vice president, meetings and events planning, the goal of Wells Fargo’s booth wasn’t to make a strong sales pitch, but to draw in guests for a fun time while leaving them open to the idea of working with his company.

“We want to be welcoming, draw in a crowd and get them excited. We’ll have videos playing around them, and of course, if someone asks a question, we’re here to answer it, but we want to let people have a good time,” Mahoney says. “If we can talk business, that’s great, but that’s not the total purpose.”

Other interactive options included a full VR tour of a house at the Hanley Wood booth and another carnival-style attraction at the Acumatica booth. Guests could test their strength using a mallet to ring the bell atop the tower, making the booth a hub of sound and attention.

About Chad Husted

Chad is an assistant editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A Purdue University graduate, Chad has covered sports and news at the high school, college and Olympic levels as a sports writer, editor and designer for multiple newspapers. Prior to joining the NRHA, he was the sports editor for the Herald Journal in Monticello, Indiana, and a designer and copy editor for the AIM Media Indiana group in Columbus, Indiana. When not cultivating his beard, he enjoys backpacking, cooking, traveling and watching too much sports and Netflix.

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